Back in the days when the average gearhead didn’t have the internet, forums, nor countless Facebook Mechanics to help sort out vehicle issues and repairs, previous generations resorted to what is perhaps the most credible source of all: books. While there are countless literature and material that have been written and read about fixing a particular car, one series of books stands above all when it comes to being the backyard mechanic’s best friend: The Haynes Manual. It is then unfortunate that we have to report that the author of these books, John Haynes, has passed away.
John Harold Haynes was born in the 25th of March, 1938. According to his obituary on the Haynes website, Haynes was born in Sri Lanka to a father who managed a tea plantation back when the British Colony occupied that area. His interest in cars began as his father drove him around in a Morris 8 sedan for their pastime. By age 12, John Haynes was then sent to a boarding school in Kent, England where he had the opportunity to write his first repair manual. His obituary states:
“He persuaded his House Master to allow him to miss rugby and instead spend his time converting an Austin 7 into a lightweight sporty Austin 7 ‘Special’. He eventually sold the car, making a reasonable profit, and owing to the immense interest it received (over 150 replies to the advert) he decided to produce a booklet showing other enthusiasts how he’d made it. He published a booklet entitled “Building A ‘750’ Special’; the first print run of 250 copies sold out in 10 days.”
Following his schooling, John Haynes then joined the Royal Air Force where he was able to work on publishing more manuals during his free time. In 1965, a colleague needed help fixing an Austin Healey Sprite, a task Haynes saw as an opportunity to completely document the teardown and rebuild of a complete car. He then purchased a camera and captured the process of dismantling and rebuilding the engine. The use of step-by-step photosequences linked to exploded diagrams has since become the trusted hallmark of Haynes Manuals.
Since the first book published in 1966, Haynes Publishing Group PLC eventually found its way to the London Stock Exchange in 1979. Having been in production for close to 50 years, the Haynes Manual offers very specific repair instructions and properly broken-down diagrams for a variety of vehicles. Aside from conventional vehicles, Haynes have even treated readers to easter eggs such as the Haynes Manual for the Millenium Falcon and the Haynes Manual for the Death Star from Star Wars. To this day, the company has sold over 200 million Haynes Manuals around the world.
John Haynes passed away on February 8th, 2019 following a short illness. He is survived by his brother, sister, two sons, four grandchildren, and his wife Annette, whom the Haynes website says “contributed hugely to the success of the Haynes Publishing Group and she shares John’s lifelong passion for cars.”
We tip our hat to this gentleman who dedicated his life towards sharing his knowledge and making wrenching on cars all the more easier and convenient through his literature.